TSG Artist Spotlight: Musician, Producer & Composer, David Ben-Porat
We’re continuing to feature our incredible Simple Good Artists who help spread The Simple Good through their medium of art! Today, we are featuring David Ben-Porat, a multifaceted freelance artist, musician, and producer/composer and a former member Sidewalk Chalk. David worked on the soundtrack for our upcoming full-length feature documentary Project: Building Hope, has followed the journey of our annual partnership with Heart of A Thousand Hills (HOTH) over the past 3 years. The film is about the compelling journey of Priya, our Founder, and Nina, Founder of HOTH, two women with strikingly different and traumatic backgrounds, who come together to initiate hope & possibility halfway around the world. Following the two from Chicago to Rwesero, Rwanda, Project: Building Hope explores the trauma of violence in both cities revealing how art and education play a critical role in the healing process. For more details on the Building Hope Project you can read our blog post here.
It was really fun talking with David while he was doing his dishes in the morning. We laughed and vibed on all sorts of things from how he began his musical journey, to how it led him to The Simple Good and why he thinks programs like The Simple Good are important.
How did you come about playing the trombone? How did you know it was your passion?
When I was a kid I grew up in Connecticut. My Grandma lived in New York and decided to sell their house to move down to Florida. My mom insisted on taking the piano they had, and they forced my sister and I to learn. From there I figured out I was good at it. When I got to middle school, I told my mom that I wanted to get into band and learn a wind instrument. It was in part due to my personality that I got picked to be a trombone player. My mom told me she used to play when she was a kid, so I just thought “I’ll play the trombone like my mom used to.” I later found out that she lied to me to get me to play it because it was the cheaper instrument to rent. But it was a good thing! I used to be more competitive in my approach to activities I wanted to do sports, and that didn’t come easy all the time, but instead received accolades for music, acting, singing, and playing the trombone. It came natural to me.
Who is your ‘Mount Rushmore’ of musical inspirations?
It’s tough because there’s something I can pick up from everyone. The more you study, the more your palette becomes wider. Even world music is a huge inspiration of mine, I pick up different rhythms and melodies from other cultures folk music. But if I had to choose, I would choose: Quincy Jones, Miles Davis, and Me’Shell NdegeOcello. These are artists, that consistently, went back to the drawing board and search for ways to reinvent their craft and make music evolve. Miles Davis changed music like 6 times in his career! A guilty secret of mine, is that I don’t spend my downtime listening to music too often. Podcasts are huge, but in general I try to be present in mind and go where it takes me creatively. Also, the streaming services, make it hard to keep up with everything.
How did you get involved with The Simple Good and how did you come to work with the movie Project: Building Hope?
I’ve known Cam [Be] (of Camovement) since I moved here. Because of being a member of Sidewalk Chalk, I was around the artists of Columbia College a lot, and that’s where I met him. Toward the end of my Sidewalk Chalk career, I had approached him about wanting to get involved with doing more soundtracks, producing, and scoring. He got in touch with me about a documentary and wanted me to contribute to that. Cam and I go back about 10 years, and through this we’ve become somewhat closer. I’ve always been a huge fan of his work. I knew he was working with Sam [Trump] on projects previously, so we all linked up together.
You helped with the film’s soundtrack — Can you tell us about what the soundtrack for the film is like? What was the inspiration for developing the music?
It took me a couple tries to figure out what Cam was looking for. After showing me the various edits and the cuts he was making, it sounded like he wanted the soulful vibes, mixed with some African rhythms and worldly percussive influences. That was the inspiration for the clips that I have with him. I really tried to tie in some instruments with my natural skills too.
What are you most excited about for the film? What do you hope people will take away from it?
I’m excited to see the finished product. I hope people pay attention to the story behind it. I was very intrigued by Nina’s story and the whole idea of going back to Rwanda to build a school. I was inspired by the way it engaged the community over there and brought everyone together for the sake of the children. I was particularly moved by a scene I saw, where someone would take scrap tires and make a playground out of them, and the kids LOVED it!
What is your meaning of ‘the simple good’ and how do you use it in your every day life?
Persistence and trusting The Greater Good. I try to stay positive and have gratitude. It sounds easy, but it takes practice.
Why do you think programs like The Simple Good are important to our community?
With programs like The Simple Good, kids find potential that they never had. It’s another sense of achievement to find out that you can create and manifest things that could previously only be envisioned in your own mind. Art is one of the first things that gets cut in education programs because it’s not on the same scale of “importance” as science and math, but it’s just as important in child development. I think The Simple Good brings a unique approach to bringing the arts into school programs.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on making new music in my home, building up my musical catalogue for licensing, producing, and scoring, trying to get a foot in that industry. I’m working with the poet, Harold Green, from time to time as well. In the fall, Sam [Trump] and I are going to be doing a couple of shows with an orchestra we put together for a Nat King Cole tribute.
David’s interview was so funny, and full of life experience. Being an artist himself, his value of arts programs and the accomplishment that comes from creating shows. It was an honor to speak with him and look forward to seeing the latest ‘simple good’ he unleashes to the world soon!
Follow David’s work Instagram at @dbplovesyou
Find the latest updates of our film on IG, FB or Twitter at ProjectBuildingHope or go to projectbuildinghope.com to learn more.